In the face of an onslaught of nationalist, anti-Arab laws, one lawmaker is proposing a simple alternative: transforming Israel into a state for all its citizens.
A few years ago, my colleague Noam Sheizaf conducted a fascinating interview with the executive director of Adalah, Hassan Jabareen, in which the former raised the idea that the rise of nationalist and anti-democratic legislation was actually a response to the Palestinian-Israeli public taking its citizenship more seriously — both its rights and the obligations that that citizenship entails. Considering the conduct of the government, as well as that of the Arab public in Israel over the past decade, it seems there is some truth to Sheizaf’s suggestion.
More than 10 years ago, between 2006 and 2007, Arab civil society organizations challenged the country’s Jewish majority by proposing a series of documents titled “The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel.” The documents did not merely demand formal recognition of rights for the Arab minority, but proposed the wholesale transformation of Israel from a nationalist ethnocracy into a democracy based on equal rights. These documents not only failed to stimulate the kind of public debate that was hoped for; over the last decade, they have been answered with a wave of discriminatory and racist legislation, including the Nakba Law, the Family Unification Law, and, perhaps most significantly, the Nation-State Law.
In light of the Nation-State Law, which is meant to formalize the status of Arabs as second-class citizens, Knesset Member Yousef Jabareen (Hadash, the Joint List) has proposed a new Basic Kaw in response: Israel, a Democratic, Egalitarian, and Multi-cultural State.
The parallels to the Nation-State Law are intentional: for every discriminatory clause, Jabareen, who has a PhD in law, has proposed democratic alternatives based on equal citizenship for Arabs and Jews. Whereas the goal of the Nation-State Law, according to the proposed bill, is “to defend the status of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, so as to define Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of the principles in Israel’s declaration of independence,” the goal of Jabareen’s bill is “to define Israel as a democratic and multi-cultural state that guarantees complete civil, cultural, and national equality to all of its citizens.”
“Over the past several months discussion of the Nation-State Law, of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, has increased,” Jabareen said, explaining...Read More